Dubai: HSBC confirmed on Tuesday that it is currently implementing cost-saving measures which are believed to affect thousands of its employees worldwide.

Europe’s biggest lender intends to shed up to 50,000 jobs, according to a Reuters report, in order to simplify its operations and improve its performance. About half of the staff reduction will be a result of the sale of the bank’s outlets in Brazil and Turkey.

The downsizing will leave the bank with about 208,000 employees working full time in two years, compared to 258,000 at the end of 2014, Reuters reported.

It is not clear whether the job cuts will affect the bank’s operations in the Middle East. A spokesperson for the company declined to issue further comments when contacted by Gulf News.

In an investor update released on Tuesday, HSBC said it is now “undertaking a significant reshaping of its business portfolio” and targeting annual cost-saving initiatives of $4.5 to $5 billion by 2017.

The company confirmed it is selling its operations in Turkey and Brazil but plans to maintain a presence in Brazil to serve large corporate clients.

The bank seeks to reduce its assets by $290 billion in 2017 and aims to have 12 per cent fewer branches and “20 per cent less square feet” in top seven markets.

However, it plans to accelerate its investments in Asia, to capture “expected opportunities from emerging wealth in the region.”

“We recognize that the world has changed and we need to change with it,” said Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s group chief executive.

“The world is increasingly connected, with Asia expected to show high growth and become the centre of global trade over the next decade. I am confident that our actions will allow us to capture expected future growth opportunities and deliver further value to shareholders,” Gulliver added.